In some languages, like Italian or Polish, you can look at a word and instantly know how to pronounce it. Or if you hear a word, you can have a pretty good guess about spelling it for the most part.
Unfortunately, English doesn’t have regular spelling patterns, and there are even many different ways to spell the same sound, like hear and here. There are also words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently, like the present and past tense of the verb read.
Why are we talking about spelling on a blog about pronunciation? That's because the irregular spelling pattern in English is the reason English learners find the pronunciation so difficult!
Today, we’ll look at the 10 most difficult words from Eat Dream Sleep English YouTube channel, and some tips to help you remember the correct pronunciation.
First, let's take a look at a special sound in English, called schwa sound. It is represented as
/ə/. It’s the sound you hear at the end of “butter” or in “a cup of tea”.
This sound is very common in English! It’s never stressed, and it's a lazy, unclear vowel sound, like “uh”. Often, some vowels
(a/e/i/o/u) are replaced with the
Words with Tricky Pronunciation
Pop quiz! What do these words have in common?
Here's the answer.
They are tricky to pronounce because these words have “extra” letters in them which confuse English learners!
- Comfortable has three syllables, not four. It's not pronounced “comfort table.” Replace the ‘a’ at the end with the schwa
/ə/sound. That way it'll sound more like “comfor-t-ble.”
- Restaurant has only two syllables. You can miss out the “au” or replace it with schwa after the “t”.
- Island has an “s.” Just ignore this. “Land” is not pronounced like “hand.” Replace “a” with schwa.
- Dangerous, like restaurant has only two syllables. Miss out or replace the “e” before the “r” with schwa.
- Vegetable, like comfortable, has only three syllables. It follows a similar pattern – skip out or replace the “a” before the “t” with the schwa.
How to Pronounce the “Th” Sound
Moving on to the ‘th’ sound in tooth, teeth and clothes.
To pronounce the “th” sound, put your tongue between your teeth and let the air come out.
Pronouncing clothes is a bit tricky, as the “th” is followed by “s.” As soon as you place your tongue between your teeth to pronounce the “th,” your tongue has to pull back quickly. Check out Tom’s trick from the video of him saying “close” with a
/z/ sound at the end, as in “close the door.”
How to Pronounce “Walk” and “Work”
That brings us to walk and work. The vowels in these words are pronounced quite differently, so here the problem usually comes down to listening and being able to differentiate between sounds in English.
When you say “walk,” your mouth opens and makes a shape similar to an O. Your tongue is relaxed and rested at the bottom of your mouth. When you say, “work” your mouth doesn't open as much, and you pull back and tense your tongue.
How to Pronounce “Analysis”
Finally, we have analysis.
This time, you do pronounce all the letters! It’s got 4 syllables, with the “y” making a schwa sound. The stress is on the second syllable, so you say the “na” a little louder and stronger than the rest.
Extra: How to Pronounce “Anemone”
Anemone is a plant of the buttercup family. Can you guess how this word is pronounced?
So, those are top 10 most difficult words to pronounce in English, and how to pronounce them!
Words aren't always pronounced the way they are spelled, and English spelling is hard for native speakers too!
Make sure to practice speaking out lout in order to improve your English pronunciation.